What Is This I Can’t Even…

The avoidance of the pantry inventory continues! Last night, I made pumpkin pie, but instead of using the usual spices, I used garam masala instead. Today, we had pie for breakfast, and my husband (who professes not to like pumpkin pie) made half the pan disappear, as well as helping use up all the whipped cream.

I could claim that I was using up the brown sugar that was hard as a rock, and the can of pumpkin that was pushing its best-by date by the wrong side of a few months… Or I could just admit I made it because I wanted something sweet and spicy, but not too sweet, rich and filling with a cup of coffee.

The random rabbit trail of last week’s story hooked a hairpin turn, announced it was backstory, and I’m 5,000 words into what’s happening 10 years later. (Metaphorical ten, it’s a bit longer than that.) And what’s happening is an urban fantasy that seems determined to make fun of many, many a PNR that’s marketed as a UF, and skewer reverse harem tropes with “It doesn’t work that way.”

Including wereleopards making fun of common tropes as “That’s wolves. We don’t do packs.” As well, a completely non-salacious scene of two women in a shower. Black humour aplenty, but no titillation.

I could claim it’s intentional, but really, it’s just the level of sweet and spicy, rich worldbuilding and black-coffee-like humour that my heart wanted.

So here I go stretching myself in odd way, trying a genre in which I’ve read a lot (and TBAR’ed plenty), but never managed a completed story in before. It’s good to grow, and try experiments. Maybe I’ll even find what I need, skill-wise, to finish The Interminable WIP that awaits patiently, lurking under the surface of the subconscious like in the house of R’lyeh, the dead WIP waits dreaming…

When was the last time you tried a purely experimental story, or switched genres? How did it go for you, writing and skillwise?

33 thoughts on “What Is This I Can’t Even…

  1. I’m currently working on an experimental story involving fantasy space marines. It’s been fun to write so far – hopefully it will be fun to read. Fingers crossed!

  2. That quote from Sir Terry originally came from Gilbert Keith Chesterton (“An amateur is aomeone who proves that a thing … “). He also told us that “Paradox is truth standing on its head to get our attention.”

  3. Oh, it can be fun to get away and do something completely different. My most recent was a dive in to superheros coming out of retirement to fight space invasion. And before that it UF–except instead o a werewolf I wound up with big friendly dog. Time travel. Never doing that again, absolute headache trying to make it work . . .

    1. “Time travel. Never doing that again, absolute headache trying to make it work . . .”

      Pam, time travel plots make me break out in hives. The closest I’ve seen to handling it well was JMS in Babylon 5 with the Valen arc, and even then, the paradoxes became almost too much.

      1. For a corrective, check out The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers. Watch everything click neatly into place. Take your hat off to the master, and never be tempted to try and replicate the feat.

  4. I wrote a totally-not-a-paranormal-romance, which per the Rules of PNR must have sequels because all the guys in the pack HAVE to find mates, er spouses. It worked pretty well. I tried horror once. It . . .No, not again. I can do it, but I don’t like having to get into that mental space.

    I also tried straight humor once, but I can’t maintain it over more than a scene or two. Pure humor is very hard to do well, and my hat is off to those who can write it!

  5. I’m still a comparative newbie, so all my stories could be said to be experimental. They run across several different genres: zany children’s stories, children’s SF, generic SF, supernatural (upbeat and downbeat), fantasy (sort of; sorcerers and dragons, anyway), crime (contemporary), and crime (Golden Age). Mostly short stories, one novel to date. Skillwise, I am picking stuff up (at least I’m getting a feel for what doesn’t work)(with some mentoring – hat tip to TXRed).

  6. Well, I’m currently writing superheroes in a high fantasy world.

    And there was Queen Shumalith’s Ball which is a story without scene breaks, endlessly shifting point of view as the character’s scene ends. (I ended up generating a world cloud and discovering who the main character was that way.) Or The Princess Goes Into the Forest which is a portal fantasy with a rather — unusual portal.

  7. I wrote a reference work for homeschoolers, some pamphlets about Galileo for homeschoolers, a cozy mystery about a child with cancer, a Kindergarten guide to Dante, and now am working on what is probably some sort of romance. I lack the skill to write villains so I wonder if I stick to writing non-fiction, or whether I should keep trying on principle!

    1. I”m not great on villains, either. I’ve learned to make the primary opposition more about immovable reality or disaster rather than clever evil plans.

  8. Current WIP that’s been somewhat steam rolled by other things.

    Started as the Great Dwarven Cheese Scandal: basically a somewhat light hearted coming of age story of a dwarven cheesemonger. Except high fantasy wasn’t really doing it for me, so I shifted the setting to a world I cooked up for something else: a repopulated space hab that, since it had been kicked back so far, had picked up some odd stuff.

    Which meant this was likely in the old stomping grounds of one of the deposed lesser god things. Ok now we’ve got one of those running around…

    And the kid is going to need some sort of older wiser help, so what about the shapeshifting detective hiding his past as a living warcrime?

    Wait, this society structure doesn’t really support private eyes, so he’s probably more a drifter/cow-poke type. That’s where the first private investigators came from-ish, so works.

    Which also means he’s wandered through deposed god-thing’s wilderness without getting eaten, so they must know eachother. So, how do they interact? Like an old marries couple? Wait, what? How?

    Which is how I’ve somehow ended up writing a PNR adjacent story set in a scifi repaint of the American Civil War. I have so much reading to do…

    Though I’ve probably got too many other things I’m trying to do this year to really make it happen. Don’t know.

  9. You know what? We need a once-a-month everyone who published anything posts a link and blurb, because I want to see most of things everyone here says they’re doing, and half of them have noms-de-MGC so I can’t just check Amazon!

      1. Because someone would have to organize it.

        This way, instead of sending the info to someone, you just post it on the “This Month at MGC” day.

        1. Hmmm….
          How difficult would it be to add a page of author permalinks that authors can put links in comments? I’m thinking something like Sarah’s “Interesting Permalinks” page linked from the blog header.

          I think you would want to sort author comments by most recent first, so that the newest ones appear first. And does WP allow you to tag an account as a “verified author” in their comment settings, so that links can’t be added by spambots?

  10. I’m trying to change genres from dry technical papers to SF. I’m discovering that I can write a decent hook, and passable dialogue, but I can’t … plot. In the (only) WIP, Our Heroes (and a Plucky Girl stowaway) are chasing The Villain (and the kids he kidnapped) across twelve dimensions of time and space in a malfunctioning prototype starship (the villain stole the good one) and … now what? I got the story started and moving, but I have no idea what happens next. Is this normal?

    1. Yes. Do you have an end-point in mind? Let’s say it is “kids rescued.” OK, what has to happen just before that? “Confront villain and fight/persuade to surrender” OK, and before that?

      Sometimes working backwards helps clarify where the characters need to go and what they need to do in order to reach the end-point.

      1. Thank you. I’m having similar problems with ‘Texas in the Med’ and working from my planned conclusion may be a big help in sorting everything out.

    2. That’s why I started outlining. To force the story to cough up the complete plot (so I could be sure there was one) before I started to write.


  11. Well, let’s see: the original Jaiya series are basically gothic melodrama/romances set in a fantasy variant on contemporary India. The Ancestors of Jaiya prequel series include a tournament story (Slaying a Tyrant), a road trip on a small airship with a demonic pterodactyl in hot pursuit (Saving a Queen), a thriller about a murder trial where the main mysteries are who’s manipulating the trial process and why the murder victim’s corpse got up and walked away (Scapegoating a Hero), and an Indiana Jones-type story set during something that vaguely resembled the Kabul Airlift (Seeking the Quantum Tree).

    Star Master books (second one is being edited now) are pretty unapologetically Star Wars influenced with a bit of Trek and Galactica around the margins. They’re the “normies” on my curriculum librae.

    Current almost-WIP started as, “If Numenor was as steampunky as some of Tolkien’s early imaginings, wouldn’t Middle Earth be kind of steampunky as well, and what would that mean for the Dunedain?” (Answer: they’re basically Victorian monster hunters with a fancier pedigree and-when they can excavate and get it running-cooler hardware. And they inbreed to a degree that the Arathorn analogue had found to be, and his son still finds to be, appalling.)

    1. I read of a story that was part LOTR — the war only. I was thinking of doing part LOTR — the destruction of the Ring only. I’m not sure it’s recognizable, for one thing it’s no longer a ring, but it moves. Sometimes.

      1. That sounds interesting-if you decide to do it, keep us updated.

        There have been a few fantasies I’ve read or seen reviews of, that might be called LOTR with the hobbits left out.

        1. I’ve finally, after many years, wrestled the outline to the ground — it was always escalating too quickly or too slowly. But we shall see.

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